Archive for the ‘Saints’ Category

In August, Pope Benedict XVI released a letter commemorating the 1,600th anniversary of the death of Saint John Chrysostom. Until an official English translation becomes available, Father John Zuhlsdorf offers his own translation (Microsoft Word format), as well as some interesting comments on the letter (see especially his comments on the connection between the Roman Church’s liturgical “Reform of the Reform” and relations with the Orthodox Churches).

Here’s an interesting excerpt, germane to the themes discussed at this blog:

In view of the ecumenical progress made between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches since the Second Vatican Council and especially in recent years, we wish to recall the outstanding efforts that St John Chrysostom made in his day in promoting reconciliation and full communion between Eastern and Western Churches. Singular among these achievements was his contribution in ending the schism which separated the See of Antioch from the See of Rome and other western churches. At the time of his consecration as Archbishop of Constantinople, John sent a delegation to Pope Siricius at Rome. He also won in advance of this mission the crucial collaboration of the Archbishop of Alexandria in Egypt for his plan to end the schism. Pope Siricius responded favorably to John’s diplomatic initiative, and the schism was peacefully resolved so that full communion between the churches was restored.

Later, toward the end of his life, following his return to Constantinople after his first exile, John wrote to Pope Innocent at Rome as well as to bishops Venerius of Milan and Chromatius of Aquileia. He appealed for their assistance in his effort to restore order in the Church at Constantinople which continued to suffer ecclesial divisions spawned by the injustice committed against him. John asked Pope Innocent and the other western bishops for a compassionate response, one which “confers a favor not upon ourselves alone but also upon the Church at large.” In fact it is clear in John’s thinking that when one part of the Church suffers injury, the whole Church suffers the same injury. Pope Innocent defended John in letters to Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria. The Pope maintained full communion with him, thus ignoring a deposition which he regarded as unlawful. He wrote to John in order to console him, and he wrote to the Constantinopolitan clergy and faithful who were loyal to John to express his full support of their lawful bishop. “John, your bishop, has unjustly suffered,” the Pope wrote to John’s followers. Moreover, Pope Innocent convened a synod of Italian and eastern bishops in order to seek justice for the beleaguered bishop. With the western emperor’s support, the Pope sent a delegation of western and eastern bishops to the eastern emperor at Constantinople to defend John and to demand that an ecumenical synod of bishops be convened to seek justice on his behalf. When, shortly before John’s death in exile, these measures failed, John wrote to Pope Innocent to thank him for “the great consolation” he received from having his support. In this letter John insisted that although he was separated from the Pope by the great distance of his exile, he was nevertheless in “daily communion” with him. Aware of the Pope’s efforts on his behalf, John wrote to him, “You have surpassed even affectionate parents in your good will and zeal concerning us.” John urged the Pope to continue with this zeal to seek justice on behalf of himself and the Church at Constantinople, because “the contest now before you has to be fought on behalf of nearly the whole world, on behalf of Churches humbled to the ground, of people dispersed, of clergy assaulted, of bishops sent into exile, of ancestral laws violated.” John also wrote to other western bishops to thank them for their support, among them Chromatius of Aquileia, Venerius of Milan and Gaudentius of Brescia.

Both at Antioch and at Constantinople John spoke passionately about the unity of the Church throughout the world. He observed that “the faithful in Rome consider those in India as members of their own body.” He insisted that there is no place for division in the Church. “The Church,” John exclaimed, “exists not in order that we who come together might be divided, but that they who are divided might be joined.” He found divine authority for this ecclesial unity in the Sacred Scriptures. Preaching on Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians, John reminded his hearers that “Paul refers to the Church as ‘the Church of God’ showing that it ought to be united. For if it is ‘of God,’ it is united; and it is one, not only in Corinth, but also throughout the world. For the Church’s name is not a name of separation, but of unity and concord.”

For John, the Church’s unity is founded in Christ, the Divine Word, who through his Incarnation unites Himself to the Church as the head of his own body. “For where the head is, there is the body also,” John proclaimed, so that “there is no separation between the head and the body.” John understood that in the Incarnation, the Divine Word not only became man, he united Himself to us in his own body. “For neither was it enough for Him to be made man, to be beaten and slaughtered, but He also commingles Himself with us, and not by faith only, but also in very deed makes us His body.” Commenting on the Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: “He has put everything under Christ’s dominion, and made him the head to which the whole Church is joined, so that the Church is his body, the completion of him who everywhere and in all things is complete,” John teaches that “the head is, as it were, filled up by the body, because the body is composed and made up of all its several parts. It is by all then that His body is filled up. Then is the head filled up, then is the body rendered perfect, when we are all knit together and united.” John thus concludes that Christ unites all the members of His Church to Himself and to each other. Our faith in Christ requires that we work for an effective, sacramental unity between the members of the Church; such faith seeks to put an end to divisions in the Church.


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But some one will say, perhaps, Shall there, then, be no progress in Christ’s Church? Certainly; all possible progress. For what being is there, so envious of men, so full of hatred to God, who would seek to forbid it? Yet on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith. For progress requires that the subject be enlarged in itself, alteration, that it be transformed into something else. The intelligence, then, the knowledge, the wisdom, as well of individuals as of all, as well of one man as of the whole Church, ought, in the course of ages and centuries, to increase and make much and vigorous progress; but yet only in its own kind; that is to say, in the same doctrine, in the same sense, and in the same meaning.


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This month’s Touchstone magazine features an interesting review of the “Orthodox Readings of Augustine” Conference held at Fordham University last June, written by a good friend of this blog, Professor William J. Tighe.

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Receives Orthodox Delegation on Feast of Apostles

VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- St. Peter’s profession of faith continues to be a guarantee of Christian unity, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this Friday, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, in a homily during a Eucharistic concelebration with 46 metropolitan archbishops upon whom he imposed the pallium.

A delegation sent by Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, also attended the Mass.

In his homily, the Holy Father commented on the dialogue between Jesus and the apostles when Christ asked them, “And you, who do you say that I am?”

“In Peter’s profession of faith, dear brothers and sisters, we can feel and be one, despite the divisions that throughout the centuries have wounded the unity of the Church with consequences that still exist today,” the Pontiff said.

Benedict XVI reaffirmed his “commitment to fulfill the will of Christ, who wants us to be united.”


After the Mass, the Pope gave an address to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus.

In words directed to the orthodox delegation: “Our meetings, the reciprocal visits and the dialogues taking place at the moment are not simple gestures of courtesy, or attempts at reaching a compromise, but the sign of a common will to do whatever possible so that we can reach that full communion which Christ prayed for in his prayer to the Father at the Last Supper: ‘Ut unum sint.’

“Among these initiatives there is also the ‘Pauline Year’ that I proclaimed last evening, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, at the tomb of the Apostle Paul.”

The orthodox delegation included Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis of France, director of the Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union; Metropolitan Gennadios Limouris of Sassima, co-president of the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church; and by Deacon Andreas Sophianopoulos, third deacon of the Patriarchal See of Phanar.

After the Angelus, the Holy Father received the delegation in audience in the Apostolic Palace, followed by lunch.

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Orthodox and Catholic Christians are united today in their celebration of the feast day of the Coryphaei of the Apostolic band, Saints Peter and Paul.

Both Orthodox and Catholics (regardless of rite), likewise, will surely be edified by praying this beautiful Akathist service to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul (from the website Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Lorain, Ohio, Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of the Midwest).

O holy Peter, chief of the apostles, rock of faith steadfast in thy confession, foundation of the Church immovable in Christ, pastor of the rational flock of Christ, keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven, fisherman most wise who from the depths of unbelief dost draw forth men! Thee do I humbly entreat, that the net of thy divine draught encompass me and draw me forth from the abyss of perdition. I know that thou has received from God the authority to loose and to bind; release me who am bound fast with bonds of sin, show forth thy mercy on me, wretch that I am, and give life to my soul which hath been slain by sins, as before thou didst raise up Tabitha from the dead; restore me to the good path, as before thou didst restore the lame man at the Beautiful Gates, who had been lame fro his mother’s womb; and as thou didst heal all the infirm by thy shadow, may the grace given thou canst do all things, O holy one, through the power of Christ, for Whose sake thou didst forsake all to follow in His steps. Wherefore, pray thou to Him in my behalf, wretch that I am, that by thy supplications He may deliver me from all evil and teach me with a pure heart to send up glory to the Father, and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O holy Paul, eminent among the Apostles, chosen vessel of Christ, recounter of heavenly mysteries, teacher of all the nations, clarion of the Church, renowned orator, who didst endure many misfortunes for the name of Christ, who didst traverse the sea and didst go about the land, and dist convert us from the deception of idolatry! Thee do I entreat and to thee do I cry; disdain me not, defiled as I am, but raise me up who have fallen through sinful sloth, as in Lystra thou didst raise up the man who had been lame from his mother’s womb; and as thou didst give life unto Euthyches who lay dead, so also raise me up from my dead works; and as at thine entreaty the foundation f the prison once quaked and thou didst loose the bonds of the prisoners, so draw me out of the snare of the enemy, and strengthen me to do the will of God. For thou canst do all things by the authority given thee by God, to Whom is due all glory, honor and worship, with His unoriginate Father and His all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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From the blog FideCogitActio comes an Eastern Papal Florilegium. Florilegia, of course, have the clear drawback of presenting quotes apart from their literary and historical contexts; on the other hand, it is a handy little reference.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Continuing with our catechetical series on the great figures of the ancient Church, we arrive today to an excellent African bishop of the third century, St. Cyprian, “the first bishop in Africa to attain the crown of martyrdom.” His fame, as his first biographer, the deacon Pontius, testifies, is linked to his literary production and pastoral activity in the 13 years between his conversion and his martyrdom (cf. Vida 19,1; 1,1).


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Here’s a brief but fascinating account of the life of Blessed Leonid Fedorov, hieromartyr and advocate for Christian unity (from Saint Joseph de Clairval Abbey, Flavigny). Another account can be found here (from the Australian Catholic periodical AD 2000). An akathist hymn and a supplicatory canon have been written, so that the faithful may invoke his intercession. And then there’s the beautiful prayer for Christian unity composed by Blessed Leonid himself:

O Merciful Lord Jesus, Our Savior, hear the prayers and petitions of Your unworthy sinful servants who humbly call upon You and make us all to be one in Your one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Flood our souls with Your unquenchable light. Put an end to religious disagreements, and grant that we Your disciples and Your beloved children may all worship You with a single heart and voice. Fulfill quickly, O grace-giving Lord, your promise that there shall be one flock and one Divine Shepherd of Your Church; and may we be made worthy to glorify Your Holy Name now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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